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How To Make Your Own Caffe Latte at Home

We all know the unique joy of walking into our favorite coffee shop, approaching the counter, and ordering that weekend coffee treat; we’re talking about the stuff that requires the attention of a skilled barista: a cappuccino, a macchiato, maybe a mocha, or of course, that model of elegant coffee deliciousness, the latte. We can request all our personal preferences: oat milk, half-caff, no foam– it’s all taken care of for us. Cafes typically observe industry consistency standards but we all have our own idiosyncratic preferences and a faithful barista knows that every person’s coffee order is unique to them. 

Now it’s nice to have a dedicated barista to satisfy our every whim, but one of the many changes brought by the last two years of beastly pestilence and enforced isolation is that more and more of us are taking a DIY approach to food and drink. Sourdough starters, homemade pasta, cocktails in the living room: we’ve all broadened our horizons at home. So why should coffee be any different? 

It makes sense, after all. You know how you like it. So why not make it yourself? Keep reading to discover how to make the perfect cafe latte at home— just the way you like it! 

But before things get too milky, let’s dive a little deeper into all things latte! 

Origins of the Caffe Latte: what is a latte? 

Origins of the Caffe Latte what is a latte

Caffe Latte is a contraction of the Italian phrase ‘caffe e latte’ which simply means ‘coffee and milk’. Now the combination of coffee and milk dates from time immemorial. But the first commercial ‘caffe latte’ as we know it was actually invented in America in the 1950s. To be specific, the drink was first made and sold in the Caffe Mediterraneum in Berkeley, California. However, the popularity of the latte didn’t fully take off until it became all the rage in Seattle, Washington in the 1980s. 

Now, depending on where you are, the definition of a latte can change. However, for the most part, when we talk about a latte, we’re talking about a single espresso shot, served in a tall cup or glass, the rest of which is filled with steamed milk (often with a foam head). 

With its popularity in the United States, the story of the latte could be said to be the story of modern cafe culture. Perhaps even the story of that most famous of coffee giants (you know the one, it rhymes with ‘jar-ducks’…). Whichever way you cut it, it’s almost impossible to imagine a modern coffee shop menu that doesn’t feature a latte option. 

But what makes the latte so enduring?  

Why Latte? 

Why Latte

Obviously, any latte lover reading this will know exactly how to answer this question. “It’s a latte,” they cry, “what’s not to like?” While that’s an insightful and true observation, it’s still worth going over what makes the latte so enduring and appealing to coffee drinkers all over the world. 

Most people are drawn to the combination of a caffeine hit from the espresso shot, while also enjoying the warm, creamy, mild flavor that comes with the addition of the milk. Those subtle notes that come through the latte are a nifty way of combating the bitterness of straight espresso, without resorting to spoonfuls of sugar! This allows the drinker to enjoy a balanced, tasty cup of coffee with a milder flavor and less intense caffeine hit. As such, many in North America and around the world like to treat the latte as an afternoon drink.

In Italy, by contrast, lattes (or indeed any other coffee with milk) are seen as drinks exclusively for the morning! For an Italian coffee drinker, the milk is like a little bit of breakfast sustenance to fill you up for the day ahead. It just goes to show, as their neighbors in France often say: “Vive la différence!”

However and indeed whenever you like to enjoy your latte, there’s no denying its endless appeal as a warming, stimulating, irresistible pick-me-up. 

Your Own Caffe Latte Recipe

Your Own Caffe Latte Recipe

Disclaimer: We’re going to be listing everything you might want to include in your homemade latte. So for instance, you might not care too much about having the foam on top. So feel free to ignore individual components according to your own tastes — after all, that’s the point of making it yourself!

STEP 1: Something to drink out of

Something to drink out of

Every drink needs a vessel. Not least because, from a safety point of view, we cannot stress enough that you should not attempt to drink hot coffee from your cupped hands. Not a good idea!

So, what should we be drinking our latte out of? Well, as with everything else in this guide, part of the joy of a homemade latte is you can drink it from whatever you like! Maybe you can sip your latte from your favorite mug, just as long as it’s big enough to contain both your coffee and about 2/3 - 3/4 of a cup of milk!

If you’re motivated to pursue a classic experience, then we would recommend getting yourself a nice latte glass. Much like wine, half of the joy of enjoying a delicious latte is enjoying the beautiful color of the liquid you’re drinking! Especially when you add the creamy milk to that rich, dark coffee and watch them slowly coalesce in the glass: perfection!

STEP 2: Espresso shot

We’ve said you could leave out any step in this process that doesn’t appeal to you, but you won’t get very far in the latte game without your coffee! In particular, it really does need to be an espresso shot if it’s going to hold up against all that milk. 

Picking your coffee

Picking your coffee

When it comes to choosing your coffee, we recommend our own Portfolio coffee. Here at Portfolio, we have a huge range of seasonal coffee harvests from reputed regions worldwide, from light and medium roasts to intense smoky blends and everything in between. All our beans are freshly roasted and sustainably sourced directly from awesome coffee farms. Our goal is to simplify your coffee process and add depth to your cup.

Not only do we have a wide range of varieties, but all our coffees are available in multiple forms: ground for every type of method and machine, including French Press and Espresso and whole beans for all of you rise-and-grinders. Check out the coffee in our Coffee Tasting Sampling Gift Pack to help you get a feel for your favorite. So, now we’ve got the coffee covered, let’s move on to how to make your espresso!

Making your espresso

Making your espresso

There are a number of ways of achieving a perfect espresso. The simplest, of course, is to have your own espresso machine! If you do have an espresso machine, you can just skip right ahead to Step 3 and we’ll see you there.

However, if you neither have nor want an espresso maker, then we recommend using a Moka pot (aka an espresso pot) — you know, those little alloy, hourglass shaped, kettle things you see in Italian kitchens!

To make your espresso in your Moka pot, fill the boiler (the bit at the bottom) with hot water. Put your espresso powder in the basket. Next, heat it on the stove on medium heat for roughly five minutes, until the coffee begins to rise into the top chamber and all the liquid has filtered through. Then bingo! You’ve got yourself a shot of espresso to form the base of your latte! 

STEP 3: Full steam(ed milk) ahead!

steamed milk

The right milk for you

Now we come to the ‘latte’ part of the caffe latte! The first thing you’ve got to do is choose your milk. For the best, most authentic latte, it is recommended that you use whole milk. However, in these enlightened times, it’s important to make sure we can all enjoy a nice latte, regardless of our dietary requirements. As such, if you’re dairy-free or vegan, then we suggest using oat milk as the best substitute for use in your latte. (We find soy milk, almond milk, and coconut milk are all a little bit too thin for the full latte effect but feel free to experiment with your own preferred milk alternatives!)

Using the steam arm

So now you’ve chosen your milk, fill a small milk jug up to 1/3. The next thing you’re going to want to do is to get steaming. If you have a coffee machine with an attached steaming arm, then you’ll want to purge this/give it a wipe before you start steaming your milk.

Alternative steaming

If you don’t have a steam arm, then you might consider purchasing an automatic milk frother. If you want to keep things fully acoustic, however, then you can steam your milk using a saucepan on the stove and a whisk. To do so, simply pour your milk into a saucepan and place it over a low heat. Then, as the milk heats, quickly whisk it until it gets nice and bubbly, just as it would with a steam arm or frother. 

Whichever method you choose, by the end you should have a nicely frothed up jug of milk ready to add to your espresso shot. Now if you’re really not fussed about all this frothing business, then simply place your milk in the microwave to heat up for 30 seconds. That way it won’t make your coffee cold, at the very least! 

STEP 4: Bringing it all together

Bringing it all together


You might be thinking: “I’ve got my milk. I’ve got my coffee. Surely that’s it?” Well, in some ways, yes. But for the perfect latte, it’s all about the pour. Once you’ve got your milk nice and steamed up, grab your cup/glass with the espresso shot already in it. 

Now tilt the cup roughly 45°. Pour the milk from relatively high into the tilted cup. As the cup fills, gradually straighten it so that the last of the milk is poured straight onto the top. This should ensure a nice frothy head on top of your latte. (It’s the same principle as pouring yourself a beer with a good head on it — if you’re into that kind of thing!)

STEP 5: Finishing touches (optional)

Now you have the opportunity to really make this latte your own. Maybe sprinkle some sugar or cinnamon on top? Perhaps a little dash of caramel to sweeten the deal? To paraphrase a song, it’s your latte, you can cry if you want to! You’ll be crying tears of joy over the delicious latte you’ve just made, obviously!

STEP 6: Enjoy! 

Enjoy coffee latte

Don’t just sit there letting your latte get cold! Drink up and enjoy the satisfaction of having made your own cafe standard latte with Portfolio coffees. 

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